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Pit Bull Spreads Plague to Four People

| April 30, 2015 Comment

Pit Bull Spreads Plague to Four People – Officials said Thursday that an outbreak of plague that affected four people and a dog in Colorado might be the first instance of person-to-person transmission of plague in the United States in 90 years.

It started with a sick pit bull, and its owner, two veterinary technicians and a close personal contact of the dog’s owner all ended up infected. The dog died but all four people were treated with antibiotics and are in good condition.

While the Yersinia pestis bacteria that causes plague is usually passed along in flea bites, the pneumonic form that infects the lungs can be transmitted by little droplets in a cough or through other close contact. This is the same bacteria that caused millions of deaths during the Middle Ages.All forms of plague can be successfully treated with antibiotics, but diagnosis is key.

According to a report from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), though rare, human plague is still a concern in Western US where the plague-causing Yersinia pestis can be found among wild rodent populations, and is responsible for about 8 human cases a year. Protective measures to take if you live in the rural West, is to get your pets treated for fleas, keep them away from wild prairie dogs and other animals, and wear insect repellents and socks.


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